Wired's Quinn Norton has a great feature in today about amateur clock-hackers who build their own super-accurate atomic clocks. These "Time Nuts" pull stunts like taking their kids hiking in the mountains for a couple days, using their cesium clocks to recreate Einstein's time-gravity experiment to prove that the family had gained 22 nanoseconds on their neighbors by rising high above Earth's gravatic center.
This is just part one -- more tomorrow!
With the end of the Cold War, and with telecommunications technology advancing rapidly, surplus stores and eBay have filled up with discarded precision time equipment once beyond the reach of all but governments. Cesium clocks, rubidium clocks and even the occasional hydrogen maser can be had for less than a decent laptop. A recent search on eBay turned up an HP 5061B cesium standard for sale for $2,000, and you can get a telecom surplus rubidium standard for less than $400. Some of this equipment costs upwards of $50,000 new.
Their access to once-forbidden technology lets the time hackers play in a realm of precision that underpins the modern technological world. A select few, like Van Baak, have started exploring the underpinnings of the universe.
Peter Biddle writes, “I get I myself into trouble. I don’t claim that bad stuff happens to me more often than others – it’s more that I find more ways to happen to bad stuff. I actually found a way to get severe hypothermia in 105°F heat.”
Looking for a tiny PC that still has space for a gaming-quality video card? SFF PC Cases is a remarkably detailed spreadsheet listing dozens of models, complete with cost, dimensions, volume and even important build tips. The very smallest are not practical for powerful builds, but the critical “Maximum GPU length” field is right there […]
Benji Edwards’s guide to preserving vintage electronics is a fascinating look into all the ways that even solid-state gear can go off in long-term storage: a lot of stuff (batteries, capacitors and even rubber) can leak viscous, electronics-destroying liquids; plastics break down in UV light; mold and corrosion eat your gear from within; spiders, crickets […]
Toaster ovens are the perfect appliance for small things like toasted sandwiches and roasted garlic (try it!), but anything more involved usually requires a full-sized conventional oven.However, despite its small size, the Wolfgang Puck Pressure Oven can handle anything from baked pastries to broiled meats. This kitchen appliance has a minimal countertop footprint, and cooks […]
The Pry.Me Bottle Opener holds tens of thousands of times its own weight, and you can pick one up now from the Boing Boing Store.This remarkable keychain is considerably smaller than any of your keys, but don’t let that fool you: it can easily open any bottle, and could even tow a trailer full of […]
Guaranteeing your privacy online goes way beyond checking the “Do Not Track” option in your browser’s settings. To ensure that your internet activity is totally hidden from Internet Service Providers, advertisers, and other prying eyes, take a look at Windscribe’s VPN protection. It usually costs $7.50 per month, but you can get a 3-year subscription […]